My first year in the Netherlands: terrifying and exhilarating

Moving alone to a new city is an experience like no other: part terrifying, part exhilarating. I’m not sure whether I’ve made a right decision,…

The moment I arrived at Schiphol airport I was freaked out:”Shit! What am I doing here? Why is it so cold? I’ve just left everything in Vietnam to come here. And…I am all alone here 🙁 “.

It was February 2015. It was freaking cold (-5 degree). It was grey and not many people were on the street. I didn’t have enough warm clothes in the first weeks…

I was completely shocked though I prepared pretty well before I came here. If you have heard or visited Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam (where I am from), you would have known why I got shocked. It’s always hot hot hot (35 to 38 degree) and busy on the street in Ho Chi Minh city. Totally different, Rotterdam in winter is so sad and cold.

After a few days, I calmed down and thought it was my decision to come here, so I’d better deal with it instead of being scared and complaining. However, it was really difficult for me to adapt to the new environment in the Netherlands. During the first year, I made some new friends but I didn’t feel like I belonged to this place…

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And then things changed when Spring and Summer came. Every weekend I wandered from places to places, enjoyed the loneliness, observed people and discover new interesting things. The camera was my best friend at that moment and I slowly enjoyed my silent life.

The lake in front of my dormitory
Sunset in Rotterdam Central
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A lovely corner in The Hague


Yep! To be honest, my first year in the Netherlands was extremely hard. Time flies and 2018 is the third years since I have moved here. Life is less tough now. I smile more often and I know pretty much about Rotterdam, the city where I live.

I realized that it’s never easy to start a new life in a new country. You always have to try your best to overcome all the difficulties. I learned that the most important thing when changing is being patient with myself.

Now I have some good friends here, not a lot but enough to cheer up my silent life. Now I know some good spots for the weekend and I can easily travel by public transport or on my bikes (yes I have more than 1 bike like most of the Dutch). Those things sound simple but it does take a long time to be familiar with. And it does take a lot of effort to fill up the emptiness of your soul…


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Hi! I am Nhu, a Vietnamese girl living in the Netherlands. I have been living in 3 countries and traveled to 23 countries and still counting. Hopefully, with my blog, I can spread the inspiration to get you moving. If you already own itchy foot, then here comes the useful tips and advice on the interesting destinations that you may visit someday. Stay tuned!

5 thoughts on “My first year in the Netherlands: terrifying and exhilarating

  1. Hey Nhu, Love your post. I have just moved to The Hague. I completely agree with your statement “I learned that the most important thing when changing is being patient with myself.” Let’s see how is it for me. 🙂

    1. Hey ideasflyhigh, glad that you like this post! Wish you a great journey in The Hague. That’s a lovely city and I am gonna write more posts about it 🙂

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